The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Daily News (Kingston, ON), 5 May 1897

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p.1 Steamer Rosedale - after being ashore in St. Lawrence, $5,000 to repair at Detroit.


Why The Insurance Companies No Longer Cover Them

A despatch to the papers on Tuesday stated "that the Insurance companies chartered in Canada have decided not to insure barges known as pinflats, carrying grain. The pinflats engaged in the grain-carrying trade between Prescott and Montreal have a total carrying capacity of 500,000 bushels. If the pinflats are excluded the grain will have to be taken to Montreal by railways, which, it is claimed, would mean making the St. Lawrence route prohibitory, and would drive the grain trade to Buffalo."

In the main the above despatch is erroneous. A mariner, who thoroughly understands the needs of the river St. Lawrence, says that for years the insurance companies doing business in Canada have met with very serious losses through pinflats being allowed to carry grain on the river St. Lawrence. There are several reasons why these barges are not as good risks as the ordinary river barges. These boats are built in Quebec, and their construction affords employment during the Winter months. They are so badly modelled that they cannot be easily steered down the rough waters of the river St. Lawrence. When an accident happens to any one of them, the cargo is completely sacrificed before it or the barge can be released. When the ordinary, sharp-bowed river barge, with a cargo of grain, strikes any place going down the St. Lawrence river, it can be easily released without much damage to the cargo. Its forefoot is convenient to be reached by the divers, and they can, with very little work, get at the hole and cover it up. In the case of a pinflat striking in the river, it is so squarely-built at the forward end that, when it runs aground, it rests on the hole, and, before it can be patched, the cargo must be removed from the boat. These barges are not suitable for the entering of canal locks and piers. If the ordinary sharp river-barge sheers in entering the lock, and happens to graze the stonework, it will glide into the lock with slight damage to its outside planking. When the pinflat comes to the entrance of the lock, this means a right-angle against a right-angle, and, if it happens to sheer to one side, the result, in nearly every case, is that the pinflat has to sink. This also applies to barges entering piers at the head of the canals. In the past the Underwriters have had to pay for many total losses of grain carried in pinflats, that would have been only partial losses if the cargoes had been carried in the ordinary river-barges. One of the great objections to the pinflats is that they are cross-planked in the bottom, and the whole formation of the bottom is very undesirable for safety.

It is true that these barges can carry grain from Kingston to Montreal at a cheaper rate than the standard river barges owned by the forwarding companies. The reason for this is that the pinflats only cost $3,000 each, while the river barges cost $20,000. The exclusion of the pinflats will not, however, necessitate the carrying of grain to Montreal in trains, for, in their absence, good substantial barges will be built by the forwarding companies. The companies are now able to carry in their barges all the grain that comes to them.

The pinflats are well adapted for the shoal water of the Ottawa river, and rivers tributary to the St. Lawrence between Montreal and Quebec, but they will not be missed if excluded from the grain-carrying trade of the Upper St. Lawrence.


-The S.S. Bannockburn will probably leave the Government Dry Dock tomorrow night.

-The schooner Albatross arrived at Garden Island today from Toledo with a cargo of timber.

-The schooner Nellie Hunter cleared for Charlotte this afternoon to load coal for R. Crawford.

-The schr. Acadia, from Charlotte with soft coal, reached the M.T. Co.'s dock this morning.

-Mr. Joseph Hackett and gang finished discharging the cargo of the schr. Nellie Hunter this morning.

-The repairs to the barge Acadia, in Davis' Dry Dock, will not be completed before the end of the week.

-The S.S. Rosemount, expected in at noon, has 70,200 bushels of wheat. This is an exceptionally large cargo.

-There was quite a dense fog on the lake this morning. Vessels were delayed in reaching port on this account.

-The sloop Lolaine (sic - Lorraine ?) is sunk in the mud at Wolfe Island. She is so old and rotten that it is not worth while raising her.

-The schr. Katie Eccles is in from Colborne with 8,000 bushels of peas. She will be discharged at the M.T. Co.'s dock.

-The strs. Spartan and Passport will start on June 1st; the steamers Algerian and Corsican will not get out before June 15th.

-The steam-yacht Wherenow is being fixed up for the Summer. Mr. Spencer will spend the season, as usual, among the Thousand Islands.

-The tug Col. By, with the barge Minnie in tow, called at Swift's dock this morning. The barge is loaded with coal for Gananoque, and comes from Oswego.

-The steam-barge King Ben, after unloading part of her cargo at Collin's Bay, came into Kingston this morning to discharge the remainder for Swift & Co.

All Sorts of News - The prop. D.D. Calvin and barges are expected in from Toledo tonight.

-The schooner Grantham is loading grain at Portsmouth. The vessel may be used for storing purposes for some time.

-Orders have been received for the str. Columbia to be in Montreal on May 27th. She will do excursion business this Summer.

-The str. Hero left Tuesday afternoon for Brighton, where she will connect with the str. North King. The Hero had several passengers for Rochester.

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Date of Publication:
5 May 1897
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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pd [more details]
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Daily News (Kingston, ON), 5 May 1897